SIOUX CITY -- A mother was found in contempt and sentenced to 10 days in jail after she refused to turn over her two minor children to their father for the summer under terms of a child visitation ruling.
The mother, Lien Beavers, said in court filings she had not turned over the children to her ex-husband, Jerry Beavers, in May because she was concerned about their safety amid the coronavirus pandemic and whether Jerry Beavers would follow recommended health guidelines.
At the conclusion of a hearing Wednesday in Woodbury County District Court, District Judge Patrick Tott found Lien Beavers had failed to comply with the summer visitation requirements in which Jerry Beavers was to have custody of the children beginning three days after the end of the school year until seven days before school resumes in the fall.
When Jerry Beavers traveled to Louisiana in May to pick up the children after their school year ended, Lien Beavers did not show up with them.
After the ruling, the children were returned to their father for his visitation period.
Tott ruled that the six weeks of summer visitation that Jerry Beavers missed will be made up one week per year during either Easter or Thanksgiving visitation times or at another agreed-upon time by their parents. Lien Beavers may purge the jail sentence if she fully complies with the make-up schedule.
Lien Beavers also was ordered to pay Jerry Beavers, who lives in Sioux City, $3,000 for his attorney fees and $658 to reimburse him for travel expenses to Louisiana to pick up the children in May.
Tott's ruling is believed to be the first in Iowa to address COVID-19 and its effects on parental rights, according to the Families United Action Network, a Des Moines-based nonprofit family law reform advocate. Similar cases are pending in other Iowa counties.